Thursday, September 12, 2013

2a: Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport with Popcorn

     While following TheThirdTeacher+ and in reading their book I have realized that in some ways school is not meeting their learning needs so I am doing everything in my power to change that in the little part of the school that I call my classroom.  In 1954, the American psychologist Abraham Maslow published his book  Motivation and Personality in which he addressed student needs and pointed out that if the basic physiological needs (at the bottom) weren't met then nothing at a higher level could be achieved.

     Although I can't meet every one of their needs I can try my best to make sure that at least they aren't hungry. I don't know about your students but mine are ALWAYS hungry. Not just hungry but some of them are downright hangry.

     So the idea is, in theory, that if they are not hungry then they at least have a fighting chance at getting to a higher level of learning and comprehension and problem-solving.   So, I've been trying to find an easy, healthy, inexpensive way to feed 100 students everyday.  I know what you're can't eat in a science classroom however in my class the most dangerous chemical we use all year is distilled vinegar so I think we'll be alright.
     In the past, I've used an air popper to make popcorn for my students when they share claymation videos that they created (someday I will post about this) but now I am planning to have popcorn available everyday. 

FYI: microwave popcorn is banned in our and most school buildings that's why I airpop the popcorn, also airpopped popcorn is cheaper!  One of their optional supplies this year was a bag of popcorn kernels and they are really into this idea and the bags of popcorn have been coming in! I'm supplying the airpopper, a big bowl, and papertowel. 

originally posted at

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2e: organizing physical space. Creating a quiet classroom with chair footies

     Lately I have been inspired by a company called TheThirdTeacher+ and have been reading about "hacking" my classroom to meet the learning needs of my students.  Many classrooms are very noisy even when the students are quiet. They spend so much of their time in school sitting, the last thing I want to do is say "stop moving" but the screeching of the chairs and desks on the floor is unbearable especially when there is a lot of humidity in the air. So I think I found a solution online.  I am really excited about this!  We tend to move our chairs and desks quite a lot in my classroom to create different learning groups and centers. Now multiply that by 24 chairs and 24 desks. It is really loud in my classroom and nobody is to blame. The more moisture there is in the air the louder the screeching sound is.

 Some of my fellow teachers have used tennis balls on the feet of the chairs like this:
I have wanted to use them but I couldn't get over a couple problems:
1) you have to cut through the tennis ball so you can get the chair foot into it (and not cut off a finger)
2) they look pretty obnoxious
3) if I was a student I would find it very tempting to throw them around the room

So I saw this post on the blog "Art with Mr. E" where he made "chair footies" with felt and rubber bands. According to him they last the entire school year and he has only had to replace approximately 5. I had to give this a try!

I have 24 desks and 24 chairs. So that we are talking 192 feet we need to cover.
I bought around 3.5 yards of back felt at Walmart at $3.97 a yard so the felt cost me just under $15 (It was cheaper than buying a multicolor pack of felt sheets at any local craft store)

I also bought zip ties at Walmart two packages of 100 for $2.97 (I was fortunate enough to find black)

With a sharp pair of scissors (this is sharpen those scissors) I cut 384 4-inch circles (2 for each foot).

The modifications I made to Mr. E's project:
1) I bought black felt. I didn't want colorful footies because I don't really want the students to notice them. I want the footies to blend in and go away because the students are more likely to leave them alone if they don't realize they are there.

2) I used zip ties to secure them in place because rubberbands would be too easy for the students to remove.

close-up of the "footie" on an upside-down chair

It has only been a week but I have to say that my classroom is MUCH quieter with these little footies. Keep your fingers crossed and hope they last.

originally posted on

Monday, September 2, 2013

A gift for the newest little lady in the family

     My newest niece was born August 28th and I wanted to give her a unique present (we don't have too many little girls in our family and I have only boys) so it gave me an excuse to use some pink. Boy, do I need some pink in my life.

 I started knitting this sweater a couple years ago but everybody kept having boys. Once I found out that the next baby was going to be a girl I got to work finishing it.

     Emma's mom loves Toms shoes (as do I) so I realized that I needed to add her own version of Toms shoes called "Emmas."
I followed the directions and used the pattern on this site:
the "Emmas" I made

The sweater pattern I used is a Debbie Bliss pattern and can be found here: Baby Shrug

originally posted on